What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Before this cleanse, I had tried a handful of them in the past, but I’m a person who is quite physically active and enjoys chewing my nutrients more than drinking them, and juice fasts and cleanses have generally left me lightheaded and hungry for solids in a way that exceeds the potentially expected amounts of lightheadedness and hunger.
I do see the benefits of a juice cleanse, however, and after a delightfully debaucherous New Year’s Eve Festival of Caloric Consumption, I was excited to jump into the Love Grace regimen, which adds skin-care products to a specialized juicing plan. My body had been overdue for some sort of focused detox scenario anyway, and I was intrigued that Love Grace aims to simultaneously cleanse both our insides and our outsides at once. A targeted protocol aimed at clearing both your colon and your complexion is a dream come true, right?
The Love Grace box arrived very impressively packed with ice packs and a freezer bag lining. I knew that every ingredient is 100 percent raw, organic, and cold-pressed, so I excitedly transferred everything to the fridge with the fervor of a hospital transplant team receiving an organ in a tacky B movie from the '80s.
I have to admit that the number of bottles was a little overwhelming at first, but there’s a really simple instruction card that basically amounts to drinking six bottles per day in a specific order, approximately two hours apart, for three days. I found all of the Love Grace labeling and literature to demonstrate both love and grace, and I especially appreciated this reminder: “Of course, listen to your body and what it’s asking for as no two bodies are the same.” The instructions acknowledged that some people may feel the need to eat, and politely suggested organic fruits, vegetables, or a salad if that is the case.
They also suggested such revolutionary treats for the body as “meditation” and “quiet time,” which I certainly haven’t made enough time for lately, so that kind nudge was most welcome.
In addition to the juices, there was a small pouch sealed in plastic that released THE most glorious smell when I opened it. These were the skin-care products, and I nearly tossed the cleanser, moisturizer, and night cream aside to obsess over the essential oils soap in Clean Orange, which smells like an incredibly sassy orange walking a runway in an amazing dress and stilettos. The smell was somehow confident and gorgeous and so strong it seemed as if it was an entity in the room with me that I should be offering a drink. I wanted to eat it and bathe in it and hug it and OMG I love this soap!
Okay, back to the juices. The first one was called Purify, and it had that cool cucumber-spa-water taste, but heartier and more delicious. The other ingredients are coconut water, celery, chard, and spinach, so it has a deep green color that belies how yummy it is.
As the day went on, it was kind of fun discovering what each drink would taste like, and with each one I remained pleasantly surprised that they tasted great. They tasted fresh as could be, and blatantly free of artificial sweeteners or preservatives of any kind, but I admit I was kind of waiting for that Healthy Taste to pop up — you know, a vague combination of dirt and shoelaces.
How sad that I’m a bit conditioned to think that things that taste good can’t be good for you, and vice versa? Of course we know intellectually that this is simply not true, and I’m someone who specifically loves the taste of fresh fruit and especially vegetables, so this idea doesn’t even make sense in a clichéd Homer Simpson mmmmmmm doughnuts kind of way. But my previous juice cleanse fails and a past foul wheatgrass shot trauma had my mind temporarily warped.
By the second day, I felt a specific joy in knowing exactly what I would be consuming for the full day, and at roughly what times. I’m an eating disorder survivor, and though I would never (mis)represent myself as fully “cured” or any such thing, I’m so incredibly grateful to have evolved to a point where I felt safe doing a juice cleanse and wasn’t triggered. Rather, it helped me focus on being thankful for how far I’ve come that I could enjoy the benefits of juicing and not be suddenly plunged into the routine of not eating solid foods and carry it on, drinking only water with lemon when the juices were finished.
Love Grace had me hungry for solid foods at times, but in a mild way that felt natural and not lasting or extreme. Again, with my history, my satiety levels can get wonky but I was hyper-vigilant and would have allowed myself solids if it came to that. Instead, I distracted myself by looking at recipes and planning to make something deliciously decadent (but still healthy) for dinner in a few days.
I enjoyed all of the juice flavor profiles, and I found ginger to be the star of the Love Grace lineup, popping up in different concentrations in a number of the beverages. All of the drinks are 16 ounces, except for the midday superstar Ginger Bomb, a 4-ounce sinus opener that damn near steals the whole show. It’s a lemony-gingery delight in your mouth and then a raging bull of ginger aftershock stampedes through your entire cranial cavity. And it is somehow glorious. I enjoy that sharp, ginger-pepper thing, but I also enjoy candied ginger and very spicy foods. I imagine this might be too intense a taste for some, but I could start every day with this ass-kicking combination of orange, ginger, lemon, oregano extract, and Himalayan sea salt.
Coming in at a very close second for most delicious is the Longevity Tonic, made of lemon, cayenne, agave, more Himalayan sea salt, and something called shilajit, which I had to google. Apparently it’s an ayurvedic powerhouse with all manner of healing and system-boosting properties, and I plan to look into it even further.
The cayenne kick in my beloved Longevity Tonic tasted at first like the best case scenario of the Master Cleanse. Remember the Master Cleanse? Like some forms of yoga, it had been around for ages and practiced seriously by small groups until at some point some pop star mentioned it in an interview and suddenly it was everywhere. Or at least some version of it was. I remember how chic it was in certain circles to walk around with your enormous jug of lemony water with the telltale flecks of red pepper at the bottom and the squirt of maple syrup that never quite mixed in.
Then people just started drinking the maple syrup or adding pepper to regular old preservative-filled store-bought lemonade or doing whatever they pleased and calling it the Master Cleanse. I did it once for the prescribed week, but health wasn’t my first priority then, so I was basically just not eating. I can’t emphasize enough how good it felt to guzzle the Longevity Tonic (and other drinks) and recall the Master Cleanse but not long for it.
Looking at the skin-care products, my slightly cynical side might crack wise about the almost unbearably artisanally named “rosehip balancing cleanser with sea buckthorn” and “sunflower seed night cream with jojoba,” if only they weren’t so light, natural-feeling, and lovely on my skin. I haven’t worn makeup during the cleanse, and I’ve kept up my workouts, so washing away my face’s escaping toxins with mango butter and the like has felt extra refreshing.
In not such rose petal-y news, let’s talk about poo. In addition to my face, toxins have been escaping from other parts of me as well, and a lack of solids for a few days affects the manner in which that happens. Shall I make a pun about having two sets of rosy cheeks at the moment? Better not. Suffice it to say that I had a little senna tea in the evenings to assist things along, since there weren’t the usual solids doing that job and things got a little runny.
Runniness aside, the Love Grace process was an absolute joy. I feel like my face is making the squeaky clean noise when I wash it, though my skin is certainly not tight or over dry, and I feel organic juicy health coursing through my veins.
It’s funny how things like this can have lasting effects that don’t need to feel like Restrictive Resolutions when they’re enjoyable. For example, I’m finished with the cleanse, but as I thought of having one of my frequent indulgences of wine with dinner tonight, I kinda said to myself, “Eh, maybe tomorrow. Or over the weekend…doesn’t feel crucial.”
On that first day, I think my subconscious wanted to keep the New Year’s revelry going and I was fiending for a cocktail. I’m not proud of myself to admit this, but I really felt that the delicious Love Grace Super Cider (apple, carrot, ginger, and lemon) would have been GLORIOUS on the rocks with some Bacardi Limón. I didn’t dare sully the fresh juices, so here I am a few days later feeling fresh and juicy and simply shrugging at the idea of a cocktail.
I’ll probably have one this weekend, though. Balance, you know.